Scenic USA - Arizona

The Totem Pole

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Totem Pole - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Kayenta, Arizona

Photo by Andy Cook
Andy Cook Photography

     Monument Valley, covering a huge area of famous sandstone mesas, buttes and spires, has defined America's idea of the Southwest for decades. Subject of countless feature films, television commercials and calendar photographs, these desert icons continue to enchant Monument Valley visitors. The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park surrounds nearly five square miles of unforgettable desert icons, some with descriptive names such as the Three Sisters, Camel Butte, The Mittens and Elephant Butte. Most of these names were added by early settlers of Monument Valley, while the Navajo People have their own names for these distinct mesas, buttes and rock formations.
     The Totem Pole, a towering rock spire, is found near the end of Monument Valley Tribal Park Drive. At first, it seems fitting that the Navajo park would have a totem pole, but interestingly enough the Navajo people have no association at all with the Native American sculpture. The spire is just one of the many striking rock formations in the valley named by non-Natives. Weathering and erosion have created many more interesting shapes, which were a big part of the lure in many of John Wayne's early movies.
     Monument Valley Park spans the Utah and Arizona border and takes up a small part of the Navajo Indian Reservation. The reservation, about the size of West Virginia, covers 27,000 square miles in the states of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Monument Valley is one of the Navajo's most famous attractions, entertaining over 350,000 visitors every year.

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